The Customer Experience Maturity Model : How to Assess and Prioritize CX Progress

 | 

We live in the Age of The Customer—an era where customer’s voices, opinions and desires matter more than ever.

So what do customers want?

Depending on your industry, that will always differ. But one desire is universal: customers want great experiences.

We can see that from studies showing the connection between companies who excel in giving exceptional customer experiences and the level of loyalty from their customers.

Giving your customers the best experience in your industry means gaining the upper hand and having repeat, happy customers. But even if the desire to craft a better customer experience is there, the question of how to do it often remains.

In times past, many followed a Customer Experience Management (CXM) approach, but in this fast-paced, technology-centric world, this type of reactive approach to customer experience may not provide the experience you’re hoping to achieve.

Instead, a proactive approach would be to use a Customer Experience Maturity Model (CXMM) as a framework for understanding the current state of your customer experience and setting goals for how to improve.

Why The Customer Experience Maturity Model?

When it comes to customer experience (CX), what are your firm’s strengths and weaknesses?

More importantly, what does this mean in the larger context?

This is where CXMM comes into play.

The Customer Experience Maturity Model eliminates the guesswork and gives companies a clear view of where they excel and areas where they need improvement. It works by breaking down the customer experience into 5 practices every company should master.

It’s a system–a framework you can use to gain into the broader aspects of what impacts a customer’s experience.

Understanding The Areas Within The Customer Experience Maturity Model

As mentioned above, the CXMM framework is broken down into 5 distinct aspects:

1. Data

2. Design

3. Delivery

4. Measurement

5. Culture

Each of these areas of practice is broken down even further into statements and scores that help contextualize and score your overall customer experience maturity.

To understand how well you’re doing in customer experience, you will need to look into each practice area in the CXMM, the criteria, and then score your own efforts to manage the customer experience.

Each of these areas of practice is broken down even further into statements and scores that help contextualize and score your overall customer experience maturity.

To understand how well you’re doing in customer experience, you will need to look into each practice area in the CXMM, the criteria, and then score your own efforts to manage the customer experience.

 

Download the CXMM framework >>

These 5 areas of action are cyclical, meaning that a “set it and forget it” attitude doesn’t work. Customers change, businesses need to pivot, and industries shift. With that being the case, there is always a need to look at things more than once to make sure the experience is consistently being evaluated and improved.

The CXMM is meant as an actionable framework that gives you direction on how to both measure and evolve your customer experience programs.

Let’s dig into each of the sections.

Practice Area #1: Data (Customer Understanding)

To design a better customer experience, you must first thoroughly understand your customers. Their wants, needs, desires–what’s most important to them.

That’s not always easy, and even though companies often feel they know their customers well, most just have a surface understanding of what makes them tick.

To understand your customer, you need data. And the level of customer data that you have will set the stage for the maturity of your customer experience management.

There are many ways to gather customer data and make it useful and insightful.

Get feedback from your customers about their interactions with your company. Their feedback is vital and could be collected in a few methods like an email or phone survey or even through direct mail.

Depending on your industry what that looks like will vary, but here are some suggestions of what to ask:

  • How would they rate their experience? The service?
  • How old are they? Vocation? Annual income?
  • Have they ever had a bad experience with your company? If yes, please let us know. Was that issue resolved to your liking?
  • Why did they choose your company?

Look for more data outside of the “normal” places. Customer service and marketing teams often have a lot of data that’s just floating around but not being used in any meaningful way. With the the right approach, you can collect this data and put it to good use.

Things like support tickets, emails, engagement with social media posts, and transcripts are often filled with feedback, customer requests, and data.

Gathering this information is not always easy, but there are tools which help you gather data.

Make sure you have customer personas in reach for everyone in the company to understand. How can employees be a part of designing a better experience if they don’t know who they’re helping? Spending time to build customer personas based on the data and insights you’re collecting and then having them on hand for your team members will go a long way in building the experience your customers genuinely desire.

Use analytics to monitor behavior. As you’ve probably encountered, most people don’t have a full grasp on why they do things or why they want things, so it’s frivolous to ask them to fully explain their behavior. Instead, you should set up analytics or use the analytics available to you in every place a customer may have an interaction with your company such as:

  • Websites
  • Landing pages
  • Emails
  • Advertisements
  • Social media

Track the data and A/B test where you’re able to. This data can help you understand how your customers interact and what seems to trigger various actions.

Practice Area #2: Design

The first step towards implementing improvements to your customer experience is design. You need to have the capacity and ability to develop a clear vision for what your customer experience should look like in order to implement it successfully.

Design your customer experience vision. How you envision the experience versus how others in the company might see it can be miles apart. Instead of letting this be something that is up to interpretation, take the time to document and design the customer experience vision.

A great example of those who know how to visualize and execute on the experience they have envisioned is Disney. The Disney Institute site is full of industry-leading content regarding customer experience.

Get key teammates involved in the designing of your CX vision. You can’t design this vision alone, nor should you. Since you are going to need help from executives in your company to execute on this, you should also pull them into the design process.

Product managers, sales leads, customer service managers, dev team leaders, business advisors–all of them have key insights to customers, the business goals, and company brand.

Their help will be invaluable so be sure to incorporate them and their ideas.

Make sure your customer experience vision is clear and available to everyone in your company. While team leads and executives are sure to help in executing a better experience, the vision you’ve all worked hard to design shouldn’t be kept to a select few. Instead, the entire company should see and understand the vision so that you’re all on the same page with a universal focus.

Does your vision and experience stick true to your brand? When trying to give your customers what they want in terms of CX, a common danger is implementing customer feedback without considering its bigger impact on the brand or overall experience.

If you try to give customers everything they say they want, you can go off-brand and move away from your core vision as a business. This is obviously not ideal and can actually damage the customer experience in the long run.

The art of designing a customer experience shouldn’t just be a laundry list items. It should be viewed holistically and carefully evaluated from multiple viewpoints.

Practice Area #3: Delivery

At this point, the following sentences should be true:

You know your customers and the experience they want. You know which levels of the experience are more important and your entire company now understands the customer experience vision.

If you can confidently say this is the case, then now is the time for implementation and delivery.

Define the activities for each employee. Saying and doing are very different things and that’s true in this case too. Each person in your company plays some role in shaping the overall customer experience. If they are to improve that experience, they need clear direction on how to deliver.

Use tools where needed. Tools can make everyone’s job easier. If you notice that people within the company are struggling to do their part or adhere to the vision for your brand’s customer experience, consider asking if there are tools available that can help.

Figure out if training is needed, then give it to those who need it most. You’re embarking on possibly an entire shift in your company culture and processes. That can mean a lot of changes and cultivating new habits into an established work routine.

Instead of giving them a thumbs up and sending employees into this new world unprepared, take time to gather feedback from those in your company to see how they feel about their role in delivering a great customer experience and if they would benefit from training.

If there is a consensus to the latter, pull in team leaders and put together a training day or sessions with feedback loops to help your employees feel prepared.

Measure your customer feedback for flaws in the system; create a feedback loop. Once your organization has started to deliver on its vision, it’s time to see what your customers think.

Use a survey and listen to those other data sources outlined in the first practice area. What do your customers think about your change to the experience? Are there more complaints? Are certain team members struggling with executing their part?

Get feedback from your customers and take a closer look at that data. If the problem lies in the vision design or the follow through, consider changing or tweaking as needed.

Practice Area #4: Measurement

Measure how the various interactions your customers have with the company impact their perception of you. In the digital age, there are multiple channels for reaching customers and all of these touchpoints affect the view your customers take of your company. You can try to assess these touchpoints through short surveys.

Use a chat system or email for customer support? Have the option to rate their experience afterwards.

Use emails for cold email sales? Let them give feedback at the end of the email sequence or after they purchase.

Those are just a couple examples. The point here is that you should be constantly measuring and assessing each touchpoint and using that data to drive your overall customer experience efforts.

Make the data meaningful. You can show your numbers and pie charts from dawn ‘til dusk, but what do they mean? How does that data translate into action on the part of team members?

Once you’ve collected data and measured it, you need to make sure everyone understands what that means, where they are doing well, and where more work is needed.

Measure how the various interactions your customers have with the company impact their perception of you. In the digital age, there are multiple channels for reaching customers and all of these touchpoints affect the view your customers take of your company. You can try to assess these touchpoints through short surveys.

Use a chat system or email for customer support? Have the option to rate their experience afterwards.

Use emails for cold email sales? Let them give feedback at the end of the email sequence or after they purchase.

Those are just a couple examples. The point here is that you should be constantly measuring and assessing each touchpoint and using that data to drive your overall customer experience efforts.

Make the data meaningful. You can show your numbers and pie charts from dawn ‘til dusk, but what do they mean? How does that data translate into action on the part of team members?

Once you’ve collected data and measured it, you need to make sure everyone understands what that means, where they are doing well, and where more work is needed.

Practice Area #5: Culture

Finally, we have to consider company culture. Your team, from the executives on down, will define a company culture–its exuding personality. Company culture comes down to having a set of core values and beliefs and making sure that you stick to them.

But why talk about this?

Because your company culture affects the customer experience. If your culture makes employees unhappy or if your employee personalities don’t fit well into you culture, the customer experience suffers.

Culture matters–and it’s important to measure and understand its impact.

Hire the right people. Empathy is often a key component to customer experience and, in general, it’s something that provides for a positive experience. Having an empathetic culture and hiring people who have this trait can go a long way.

This is something that stems from the hiring process and permeates throughout your entire company culture. During the interview process, it would be good to include scenario questions that ask how an employee would react in the situation. Have them answer more than one of these questions to get a better understanding for their capacity for empathy.

After hiring someone, some companies like Buffer have assigned books as a part of the onboarding process. A frequently recommended book is How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Institute habits that help keep CX and customers at the fore. People are creatures of habit and sometimes those habits get in the way of the customer experience. Have your team leaders–especially those who are responsible for many customer touchpoints–keep an eye on personal habits and those of the ones they oversee.

While habits may not need to change, there could be room for integrating new habits and routines into day-to-day work that can help employees keep customer experience and their impact on it top of mind.

Perhaps it could be as simple as sharing the words from a customer about how thankful, happy, or excited they are with something that happened thanks to the company. Maybe it’s giving employees who don’t work in customer service the chance to answer calls or support emails for an hour a month to see how they can personally touch a customer’s day and see the business from a customer’s perspective.

Don’t be afraid to get creative or to make these habits fun.

Build rewards into your culture and incorporate internal acts of gratitude. When employees go above and beyond what is expected of them to make a customer’s experience great, they should be rewarded.

When team leaders and other employees notice someone going above and beyond, they shouldn’t hold back in giving commendation. More than that, there should be incentives (bonuses, earning more time off, donations made in their name, etc.) that people can work toward.

So How Mature Is Your Company’s Customer Experience?

If you’ve worked all the way through the scoring sections, then you likely have a better view of just where your company stands in the Customer Experience Maturity Model.

In most cases, companies that work through this model often find there are areas that need some development and planning for execution. If that’s the case with your company, take heart knowing that designing a better customer experience is possible.

With the effort and focus of the company in designing your customer experience vision and delivering that vision as a company, moving closer to a better experience and gaining a competitive edge is very possible.

Applying Findings from the CXMM

Understanding the state of your customer experience is only the first step.

The next step is to identify the points of weakness and create a plan for how to improve.

Using the CXMM as a roadmap, you can focus on the areas where your company is currently struggling. Prioritize the most important areas and create a plan for how improve those areas.

Since a customer’s experience is determined by every interaction your company and the individual has with a customer, you need buy-in at every level.

  • Set expectations and accountability. Every employee plays a part in the customer experience, but they need to know how to play their part and what’s expected of them. Make these actions clear. Incorporate a level of accountability..
  • Consistency. Be sure you schedule these practices into your workflows and be consistent with them. (The accountability part of things will help with being consistent.)
  • Balance and coordinate. It’s not enough to have everyone working on the principles they are assigned. There is a need for coordinating these processes so that things flow smoothly across the entire organization.

There’s no quick fix for overhauling your customer experience.

But if you’re able to break it down, understand the areas that are most lacking, and develop a clear plan for improvement, then you can take the steps needed to move forward.

Refer to the CXMM periodically as both a benchmark and a roadmap.

As you evolve your customer experience, your score will improve. And so will the experience your customers receive.